Ceragon eyeing future of wireless backhaul with SDN, NFV

Though the Open Networking Forum (ONF) is still in the early days of specifying requirements for wireless transport through its Wireless and Mobile Working Group, which was announced in January, early virtualized backhaul solutions could be ready for trials in 2015 with production products arriving in the 2016-2017 time frame, according to Ran Avital, vice president of strategic and product marketing at wireless hauling specialist Ceragon Networks.

ONF has said that it hopes by year's end to see proofs of concept or feature demos from member companies for the three areas its Wireless and Mobile Working Group is targeting: wireless transport, mobile packet core and enterprise applications. According to Avital: "The relevant protocols for microwave will only be available in 2015."

Nonetheless, Ceragon has been working on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) ideas in its labs using its commercial FibeAir IP-20 microwave platform's radios. The vendor also conducted a number of demos at the Mobile World Congress industry event in February.

The company's FibeAir IP-20 portfolio includes products for both backhaul and fronthaul applications. Ceragon claims the platform "was built to function in a world enabled by SDN and NFV."

Avital noted Ceragon began creating the IP-20 platform five years ago, with NFV concepts in mind, even though NFV was not officially named until late 2012. "We had this notion that it might make sense to have a general-purpose processor in this modular architecture, so whenever you want to run some kind of an intelligent network function in this location, we can run it," he said.

When the term NFV was coined with the October 2012 publication of a white paper on virtualization that was authored by a group of network operators, "suddenly we had a three-letter acronym for what we already developed," Avital said.

On the SDN front, Avital noted that although people sometimes think SDN is about dumb devices and intelligent controllers, when it comes to transport and service routing equipment in the network, linked devices need to be aware.

"Yes, it's about an intelligent controller, but devices cannot be dumb because they need to relay what is happening in the network," he noted. "So these new devices are much more intelligent compared to what people installed in the past few years."

For more:
- see this Ceragon webinar

Related articles:
ETSI, ONF collaborating on SDN support of NFV
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NFV plus SDN: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts